Recently I was approached by the Volunteering Team in Student Development to advise on a better way to produce and present their weekly newsletter. The purpose of the newsletter is to report recent activities and highlight forthcoming volunteering opportunities.
Their previous method was to write a Publisher Document every week, convert to PDF and attach it to an email. I suggested this was un-engaging, as it was dependent on the receiver to open the document. Furthermore as the team were already writing the news etc. on their website this process was duplicating work already done. Therefore I suggested the newsletter could just be hyperlinked headlines. However to achieve this would involve some restructuring of the website and how they manage their volunteering opportunities.
The opportunities are organised into these broad categories:
- Teaching, Education and Literacy Projects
- Mentoring and Befriending Projects
- Welfare, Health and Hospital Projects
- Working with People with Disabilities
- Working with Older People Projects
- Legal Aid, Justice and Human Rights projects
- Environmental, Conservation and Outdoor projects
- Arts & Music Projects
- New Volunteering Projects/Opportunities
In the current structure all the opportunities in these categories are all listed on one page, making them hard to hyperlink to them directly and difficult to search.
To make the organisation of these opportunities more flexible we have used the Collections and Categories features of Plone. In the new structure instead of listing all the opportunities on one page, each Opportunity has it’s own Page, which is then tagged with one or more of the Categories listed below. All the Opportunities are stored together in a Folder (Opportunities Pool).
Tags: Teaching, Education, Literacy, Mentoring, Befriending, Welfare, Health, Disabilities, Elderly, Legal, Human Rights, Conservation, Environment, Outdoors, Arts, Music
To present the opportunities each of categories above has an associated Collection which searches by the ‘Criteria’ of:
- Location: The ‘Opportunities Pool’
- Categories: the appropriate tags
- Expiration Date: in the future
This then lists all the matching opportunities in a list. This method of organising and presenting the opportunities is beneficial as opportunities can appear in several categories, making them more likely to be discovered.
This setup made the Newsletter more functional as by storing all the opportunities as individual pages, those that were to be highlighted could be hyperlinked to directly.